What’s in your hand?

I just watched Rick Warren’s TED Talk and it really inspired me to write something about it. I’ve been quite a little bit of a mess recently. Got a big move coming up. I’m directionless for the most part. It can be a good thing and scary thing to be directionless. On the one hand I’m open-minded, but it’s hard to have hope without any direction to look for it in. And life is all about hope.

One of the most touching parts of the talk for me is when Mr. Warren quotes this bible passage, one where Moses is having doubts about his purpose in life (leading people to God):

…the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand, and take it by the tail.”
So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake, and it turned back into a staff in his hand.

Pushing aside the fact that Moses picked up a live snake, and trying not to focus on how badass that actually is: The point of this was to show Moses his own power and show that if he didn’t use it, that wouldn’t be in his best interest because that live snake could kill someone, perhaps even him. His shepherding staff symbolized his ability to lead, as any good shepherd should, and God wanted him to know that he needed to use this talent of his because it was God-given.

Recently I’ve been talking about a big career change. I’ve been thinking about how dense I was, how much of an idiot I was, for going to a four year school and studying Biochemistry just so a year after graduation I could turn my back on it. But have I really seen what else those 4 years can get me? I didn’t like basic research, I don’t really find academia to be a very stimulating environment. It’s quite drab, it drones on, it changes at a snails pace, it’s frustrating.

So that story made me realize that I need to start using my talents. I need to stop waiting for things to just come along and start using my damn talents. I wasn’t happy being a scientist, but I love science and soccer. I love learning. That’s who I am, it’s who I’ve been my entire life, like it, or not. I think I love helping people out too. Maybe I can show other people how to love science, maybe some kid will grow up and love science and save the world because I helped show him how cool it could be. I doubt that, due to basic knowledge of statistics and an intuitive doubt of the possibility that one man even CAN save the world, but I have no idea. No idea. What I do have an idea about is that if I just let the world pass me by, I’m going to have no idea still. I’m still going to be unhappy too. Unfulfilled.

So I went and signed up for Teachers Without Borders on their website, hopefully I can find something. It’s a start, the wheels are turning. I’m not a certified teacher, but I want to travel and get to know other cultures and I know things about science, mainly intricacies of life on the cellular level, intricacies that many people cannot even imagine exist.

In related news, I almost drifted back off into atheism over the last week or so. When I do it’s always my logical side that gets to me. It was just making more sense than Christianity was. It probably always will in some respects. I like to think I have a very well constructed logical mind. I can’t always get that logic out on paper or into words, but it’s there. It’s deeply ingrained into my thinking patterns. Choosing to be a Christian I see as an illogical thing. There are so many other religions in the world to choose from, and many of them have merit (Eastern thinking +++). I see merit in anything for the betterment of man on an individual and societal level. Do I really have to believe in a certain set of teachings? Can I just believe in the betterment of man? That’s a humanistic perspective on spirituality I suppose. It’s hard to just choose one and wholeheartedly follow it when all of this other stuff is so appealing and yet still very good for people.

So I guess all of the things don’t fit together for me with Christianity. Yet. And I say yet because I hope they will. Before tonight when Obama chose Rick Warren to give an invocation at the inauguration on Jan. 20th I would have never thought to watch him on TED and I sure as hell wouldn’t have ever read his book. Too cliche and all that. After watching this talk I see he’s a really good guy and I might should try and find that book. As much as I think I have things figured out sometimes and as dreary an outlook as I occasionally may have, life always surprises me. These are the moments, the moments of fresh surprises in life that I absolutely devour, where I swear I can almost see God’s hand at work.

You see…if I wasn’t so depressed last week, wasn’t yearning for something new to help me out of the rut, I’m almost certain this talk would not have impacted me. I may not have even watched it. Come to think of it, I almost turned it off a minute in once I realized who exactly Rick Warren was (I’d heard of his book, and his Megachurches).

But I didn’t, I just didn’t. And I learned something powerful that is going to shape my life from it. Is that just chance? Am I just making a big deal out of it because us humans like good stories? Or is that what He wanted?

The devil’s advocate is in me, I’m not sure it’s the devil, it could be, but he’s in me and he says…it’s just human nature. It’s human nature to take the easy way out so of course you will. The easy way out is taking that Biochemistry degree that you really don’t think interests you very much and running with it some more. Go teach.

What if I feel like I don’t like Biochemistry and basic science for valid reasons? What if I really do need a career change? Moses’ story tells me that is not what God would want for me. How do I even know what my talents are? I’m so talented…I can do anything. That’s what my parents say. I really believe I could do so many things, but they all take work and I have no direction to choose except the easiest one. So, back where I started? Yes. Life is frustrating as shit.

Ah, but I guess I should take into account my mood. When I wrote those last two paragraphs it was very frustrating, it was me regressing back into my past, depressed state of mind. I could feel it happening. It felt childish, it looks childish now.

I was happy to decide on a new course of action. I was happy before I sunk into that state of mind. I’m back in the other state of mind now, the Moses story state of mind. It’s better here.

Human minds are fickle and nobody ever has any solid answers.



  1. Michael said,

    December 18, 2008 at 3:18 am

    I’ve been fighting some of the same stuff…and I guess from what I’ve realized is that you just need to have fun…just smile..and if your not smiling and not having fun, you gotta get away..and if getting away means teaching, then so be it..as long as it makes you happy.

    you can have everything in the world, you could buy anything and everything, but all the tangible things in the world do not add up to equal one good smile, or one good feeling…so those feelings and smiles trump all the money and all the tangible things in the world.

    So set yourself free, find something you love and truly apply yourself, then you will reap the benefits and truly be satisfied.

    all in my honest opinion 🙂 who knows, i could be completely wrong, but maybe just listen to lykke li, and everything will be fine.

  2. Josh Farrow said,

    December 18, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I think you’re right Michael- more smiles generally equates to more happiness 🙂 I can buy that. Thinking about it…I probably don’t smile much at all during the week. The weekends are full of them when I’m surrounded by my friends, but work sucks it all right out of me. It’s deflating. So time to move on, yes.

    I’m also with you on the “down on materialism” argument. Setting myself free is what is going to be happening soon when I move out. I’ll be a free man for awhile. As long as I feel like I need…no rushing into things. I guess when you are about to move on in life, start a new chapter, it’s good to have all of the old ones written and understood, so as not to repeat any mistakes. I think that’s why I got like that (all introspective and whatever you call That up there that I wrote)…it’s kind of a culmination of a year of angst. In that year a lot of good things have happened though, learned a lot.

    I’m listening to Lykke Li riiiiiiiight now actually haha-

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